Gaming, Theory

Organizing Gamers and Handling Expectations

Disclaimer: There is no wrong way to game. Gaming is about fun, escapism, and entertainment. You can’t game incorrectly.

That said, many people disagree on what constitutes entertaining gaming. Some folks like a more serious, competitive environment and want the other people at the table to take it seriously too. Others like a relaxed, carefree approach to gaming; where everyone is just having a good time, chatting, and hanging out. And infinite variations of viewpoints in between. Not all these ideals mix well once you get a group together. Most people even change their preferred play style based on game type or with certain people.

Hosting an Event

All of these variations can cause a headache for an event organizer or someone just trying to get friends together to try their favorite game. One simple solution: set Expectations.

Lay out what you plan on playing and what the goal is for the night. If you are just playing just for fun, say that. Need practice for a big tournament? Spell it out. Play testing a new optional rule? Explain what and why.

Board game night? Give everyone an idea of what kind of board games to expect or the specific ones you had in mind. Tell how long you expect the games to last. Not only does this give people an idea if they would enjoy the game you are going to play but lets them plan accordingly.

This all needs to be communicated well beforehand. Your players, friends, and fellow gamers will know what they are getting into. Be ready to change your plans slightly to account for the issues that will inevitably come up. Remember, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

Going to Events

Personally, I’m typically very casual in my play style with most games. I want everyone to play the game and enjoy themselves. I don’t mind winning or losing. I do take the playing of the game seriously. The game is my first priority. Hanging out, drinking, chatting, or flirting always takes second place. I know this about myself. I enter any gaming event with these expectations built in. So when the event doesn’t match what I expected I do what every civilized individual does: get annoyed and throw a fit! RAWR!

Kidding… mostly.

If the event isn’t meeting my built in expectations, then I adjust accordingly. Either by shifting my attitude more competitively or relaxed to match the environment. Even if an gaming event you attend doesn’t match your exceptions it is better to adjust than to get upset. Like Bruce Lee said, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water.”

Event Etiquette

When at an event it’s important to show respect to the other players, the host, and the games themselves. This can be as simple as being a good loser and a gracious winner, thanking the host for hosting, or shaking your opponents hand.

Most of my personal experiences where this goes wrong is someone not treating some else games well. Damaging, destroying, or losing pieces because of anger or by negligence. This can quickly turn a fun experience into a contentious problem. 

As the host be understanding that accidents happen, tempers can flair, and someone will eventually spill something. Keeping a calm demeanor and making judgement calls fairly and firmly. 

The Perfect Event

Never happens. Although if you can handle other’s expectations and adjust your expectations, you might be able to herd the cats known as gamers.

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Gaming, Review

Thoughts on Warmahordes Mark III

I had the full intention of reviewing the four casters I set as my season 4 active duty roster but after spending six months figuring out the new pace and structure of the game, I figure I should share my thoughts on the state of the game as I see them. I’m a Cygnar player and I play at a semi-competitive level. All my opinions are seen through that lens.

The Jack/Beast Meta

Warmahordes iconic image has always been around big stompy monsters and big stompy robots. I’m glad to see they are front and center now. The addition of more jack/beast points, the Power Up and Spirit Bond rules, and generally making jacks/beasts more efficient has made the game more focused on the iconic aspect of the game.  I agree with this change wholeheartedly. The game had become so infantry heavy, especially medium based multi wound infantry, to the point that jacks and beasts were just filler.

There are downsides to the new jack/beast focus. Infantry becomes less common so infantry to counter infantry becomes less useful. As a Cygnar player I find my pow 10 infantry staying in the foam as I build a list. No need to take a counter to a non-existent threat or a threat that is easily countered by the jacks I’m already going to take. Single wound low damage infantry has almost no place competitively.

Ability Overkill

A lot of abilities either became more prevalent or very scarce. Tough showed up on many units. This gives units more survivability. Or it would have if Grievous Wounds and similar abilities hadn’t become so prevalent along with the change to Tough. It is almost as if those don’t have Tough at all. On the other side, Stealth became less naturally common but so did much of the anti stealth abilities. Since stealth is still available as a spell and some units retained stealth, anti stealth abilities value inflated making the solos and caster that can see stealth models a “must take.”

Journeymen League

With the release of Mark III the new Journeyman League rules dropped. These rule immediately confused me. I was fine with no alternate battle boxes. It is a new release so it might be a little while before alternate battle boxes are finalized. The weird point scaling? Strict army lists? Best painted? Best sport? I thought Journeymen Leagues were to get new players into the game and teach them not for experienced players to just crush the new players. If Privateer Press was trying to write rules to introduce new players into the system, they utterly failed.

The army restriction rule is especially egregious for favoring the experienced players. Someone who has been playing Mark II and has an understanding of the synergies can easily plan out a list all the way to 75 points. A new player has no idea if their new unit, solo, or warcaster works with their list or even if it is something they’d like to play. Then telling them they are stuck with their choice for the rest of the league. Restricting the list building puts new players on the back foot and doesn’t allow them to adapt.

The rule would work well for a slow growth league aimed at more experienced players. Add a few alternate battle boxes fix the point scaling and you’d have a great start to a league.

The Skorne Issue

I think this is probably the most telling problem from Mark III release. We had a few rules with unclear wording and some models with broken abilities. That is expected from any major release. Some things won’t be caught before they hit a wider audience. The fact that an entire faction need a major rework speaks volumes on the rush that Mark III was released. Internally Privateer Press might felt they were ready for the release but externally, form the point of view a customer and a player, it felt rushed, poorly tested, and released too early.

*mic drop*

Gaming

Overwatch: Competitive Queues at Low Gold

Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment is different then most FPS games. Unless there is a huge difference is mechanical skill, teamwork and team composition is more important than individual skill. The game also changes drastically based on the mode you play (Quick Play vs Competitive Season) and who queues with you (solo queue vs small group vs full team). These factors can change how you, as a player, can play to be successful.

During Season 1, I played mostly Lucio or Zenyatta in 4 or 5 person queue. I ended the season floating around mid 40s. Now in Season 2, I’m playing Reinhardt and Zarya in a 6 sixth stack. I’m sitting around 2000 so far. Each season I’ve occasional played solo, duo, and triple queue.

Solo Queue

When solo queuing it always felt like you are rolling the dice. You could get a handful of people who were willing and able to work together but the next game… not so much. My experience was mechanical skill became very important and team strategy less so since most games were a disorganized mess of twelve players flailing at each other. Matchmaking when solo queue will try to put with other players solo queuing but you could teamed up with a five stack or anything inbetween.

I can suggest playing solo queue if you have the personal skill and time to play the odds.

Personally my mechanical skill (aim, reaction, and in game awareness) is pretty low. I’m working on it and getting better… slowly.

Six Stack

Queuing as a full six is a ton of fun but is also one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done. When queuing this way strategy and teamwork is king. You and your five friends could jump in to competitive randomly, thinking playing together would be fun. Then an organized sixth stack become your opponents. The have practiced comps, good communication, and teamwork. They wipe the floor with you. No contest. This is where Overwatch’s team-based shooter really shows off the team-based aspects.

If you queue as a sixth stack, I suggest doing it with people you can practice with on a regular basis. The team takes the time to form strategies, comps, and synergies. Figure out what works for your team and what doesn’t.

This is where I am right now. My team plays together twice a week and we have our roles and basic comps figured out. We are trying to get our strategies panned out and get every member’s game knowledge up to par.

Duo Queue to Five Stack

Solo queue focuses on mechanical skill and six stack focuses on teamwork; everything in between is a gradate of the two. Assuming you can’t communicate with the other people on your team. In a duo and triple queue more mechanical skill is needed than teamwork. As most likely both sides are not working together as a single unit. Four and five stacks rely on teamwork more than skill. You have enough people that teamwork and flexible can make up for any “dead weight.”

From personally experience triple queue is the sweet spot. You have enough people to cover the any roles that are needed and to use teamwork effectively. Also the match making isn’t going to pair you up with full groups, so if one or two people are running off trying to “carry” you can still win the game.

Communication and Flexibility

No matter which way you decide to play a competitive season and climb that ladder. Remember to try and communication with your teammates and be willing to be flexible. Change to a hero to fill a role that needs to be filled. Be willing to change roles if the team asks. If someone asks to play a hero you’ve locked in, be willing to switch with them.

No matter how mechanically good you are at the game. You will do better if you talk to your team and work together.

Gaming

Crispy’s Custom Active Duty Roster – Fall 2016

With the release of Privateer Press’ third installment of Warmachine and Hordes, I find myself disappointed with the reset of the Active Duty Roster. I was looking forward to playing the last four casters in Cygnar: Siege, Haley2, Stryker3, and Darius. One warcaster I love, one I hate, and two I’ve never before played.

My solution? Play them anyway as my own custom roster. This won’t help me during an ADR tournament although hopefully I’ll get some practice and “git gud” with them. Or, hopefully, not lose all my games.

Let us review the 2016 Fall Roster.

Captain E. Dominic Darius: I have no experience playing with or against Darius. He looks like a lot fun. Hopefully with the mark III rule set he’ll be a strong pick.

Lord General Coleman Stryker: I’ve been on the receiving end of Stryker3 a few times. As a melee focused caster he doesn’t win points with my ranged preference but Stryker2 started to grow on me. Maybe Stryker3 will too.

Major Victoria Haley: I’ve never got the hang of Haley2. Before her mark II feat nerf, I hated playing with her. I just wasn’t a fun game. She is my least liked caster in all of Cygnar. I hope her and I find some common ground.

Major Markus “Siege” Brisbane: Siege is my rock. A badass rocket launcher wielding rock. I’ve had some of my best games with him. He is the caster I have the most table time. I’m look forward to playing him again.

During this season, I will also be playing Major Beth Maddox in the Journeyman League and Captain Allison Jakes when she is released at GenCon 2016.

I’m much more excited to play this line-up as opposed to the standard ADR this season. Wish me luck.

 

Gaming

My Overwatch Obsession

I’m giving seriously considerations to putting a Cracked Dice Overwatch team together for PC. A group to play competitive and practice two or three times a week. I don’t expect the team to be MLG level or play in any tournaments but an organized group that has fun and plays well as a team.

For those that haven’t heard; Overwatch is Blizzard Entertainment’s newest game (and IP). A team based first person shooter in similar vein as Value’s Team Fortress 2. Overwatch is the new hotness with excellent game play, fast paced action, and addictive fun. Each character has unique play style and personality with both pros and cons. Each plays an important role as part of the team and being part of a team in the main focus of this game.

I’m really enjoying the game but my normal casual attitude to gaming is being overridden by my desire to wrangle the herd of cats that is the causal player base. I’m attributing this change in attitude to the game play being so teamwork orientated. I’ve watched and played with talented FPS players who have been stomped by average players who work really well together. That is a major strength of Overwatch; teamwork can count more than individual performance.

During the first few weeks of release, I joined a team participating in the GosuGamers weekly tournaments. We got totally stomped every time. We didn’t practice (or scrim) as a team. We rarely discussed our strategies or comps. It was a total mess. I’m not blameless. We failed as a team and I was part of the team. So I failed right along with everyone else.

After the disaster of my short lived MLG career (haha), I played with a number of different friend groups. Playing with friends is always fun for a laugh but it doesn’t fulfill the competitive itch. Solo queue in competitive is a roll of the dice. Not often but sometimes you get a team with people who want to work together. Most of the time is like quick play with everyone just doing there own thing.

So now I’m looking at building a team. Its a weird feeling for me. I’ve never been a competitive person but something about Overwatch is bring out the competitive Crispy.

Gaming, Review

Cygnar Active Duty Roster – Season 3

Cue Joan Jett because this season of casters is all about reputation. I can’t count the number of times my opponents saw my selection of casters and audibly groaned. Even people who have played against me dozen of times showed signs of worry despite my reputation of bad dice and goofy list builds.

Captain Victoria Haley aka Haley1 aka Ms. Feats-Every-Round

Haley doesn’t have the same universal hate that her epic version does but melee focused armies know the pain of slowly advancing into her wall of gun fire.When they can’t run or charge every turn it can seem your opponent’s army will never reach Haley’s lines.

Haley1 is a solid caster. She makes Cygnar’s accurate firepower even more so and keeps her enemies from advancing as fast as they like. Her only drawback is she can be pigeon holed into casting temporal barrier every turn. Which is sad because her spell list makes her a great support caster. The range of option gives her flexible of how to build and play her lists but temporary barrier is powerful enough and expensive enough to overshadow those options in most cases.

Her feat is great for the alpha strike to maximizing damage output but in the competitive environment it can also eat a lot of your clock time if you are not careful.

I really enjoyed playing Haley throughout the season. My favorite list was a Oceans like list; including a Stormwall, a Lancer (or Thorn), Black 13th and a handful of Mercenary solos.

Lord Commander Stryker aka Stryker2 aka The Butcher of Cygnar

Stryker got buff, a bigger sword, and new bad attitude. If they gave him a leather jacket and a pair of shades it would have been fitting. His new found threat is deadly enough no caster really wants to stand toe to toe with him. Except maybe Zoktavir. Stryker can eat a colossal on his own; slice down two heavies, or one shot most casters. All because of his signature ability Overload.

Stryker2 is a missile on two legs (and the husk of a Protectorate jack). His ability to support his army has drastically changed from his original version. While sitting in the back waiting for an opening to assassinate their caster, he can rebuke a few enemy units or buff the unit armor against shooting and magic. His army and him take turns playing delivery method for each other. They Stryker finishes the job.

With the kind of power Stryker wields there will always be risks. In a handful of games, I’ve had Stryker kill himself with Overload. Which can be sad when you were winning and I was just being greedy but totally worth it when I was losing and Stryker – capital m – Murders the opponent’s caster.

I like taking Stryker with Ol’Rowdy and a ton of Storm Nouns. Plus a few lane clearing pieces like Black 13th or Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers.

Captain Allister Caine aka Caine2 aka The Gate Crasher

With a non-linear threat and the power to kills most casters and heavies. Enemy casters hiding as players play cagey to not accidentally open an unseen assassination vector. Caine is a killer and everyone knows it.

Like I talked about previously, I originally didn’t like the Caine’s play style but after getting some quality time with his prime iteration I’ve become a fan. Unlike Caine1, Caine2 is more about himself and the epic threat he provides. With virtual no support for his army they must survive on their own merits and support each other.

As Caine is a ranged assassination caster my lists included models that helped clear up line of sight issues. Taryn di la Rovissi, Eiryss, and Rangers were a main stay. Gun Mages and an Avenger became very useful a few games.

Artificer General Nemo aka Nemo3 aka Sparky-sparky-boom-man

Out of all the casters listed here, Nemo3 has very little reputation. Most people I throw him at have little or no idea what he is capable. Those that do underestimate his potential threat and put themselves out there for a striking revelation.

Sparky sparky boom man, like his predecessors, is all about the lightning and warjacks. Nemo and Caitlyn can tune up a decent size battlegroup with two focus each turn and still upkeep and cast. On feat turn he becomes a weird assassination caster. Looking for ways to bounce lightning into a caster putting pow 10 plus 4d6 electrical damage into them.

My Nemo3 lists usually came with a lot of lightning rods, the Stormwall being the most reliable one. Stormblades played double duty as serious damage dealers and lightning rods. I played around with Thunderhead and Dynamo but never got them to work well with the rest of the army. Reinholdt was probably the most useful model in any of his lists.

Going forward…

The march to Mark III is also “resetting” the active duty roster. So this is my last ADR review for now but I will be doing Mark III reviews of Cygnar casters as I get some quality time with them.

Gaming

ScotaFest V: Endgame – Battle Report

This may be the last year for ScotaFest and what a way to go out. ScotaFest is always the highlight of the local meta each year. This year was the biggest turn out ever with 34 players. The format was interesting too. An escalating list starting at 20 points first round and increasing ever round until 50 points. Last round you add a second list; 10 points of any faction with caster.

I went for Stryker2 for my main caster. I figured if I needed to I could suicide run to kill their caster or just take out as many heavy hitter as possible. Nemo3 as my second caster for electric nonsense on the last round.

Round 1
Stryker2
– Ol’Rowdy
– Sentinel
Black 13th
Storm Lances (min)
Stormblade Captain
Round 2 add
Storm Lances (upgrade to max)
Journeyman Warcaster
Eiryss2
Round 3 add
Aiyana & Holt
Stormblades Infantry
– Storm Gunner
Round 4 add
– Stormblade Officer
– Storm Gunner
– Storm Gunner
Reinholdt
Rhupert
Stormblade Captain
Round 5 add
Nemo3
– Dynamo
Stormsmith Stormcaller x3

Quick and dirty battle reports after break…

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